Becoming a Welcoming Church Chapter 2

This book is written by Thom Rainer entitled “Becoming a Welcoming Church.” As with the last book I will be adding a chapter a day for us to consider. I am in no way saying our church or your church if you are reading this is not welcoming – just something to think about. I am capitalizing the chapter sections.

Chapter 2 “Confidential Report (For Your Eyes Only)

First, let me say I am learning so much from reading these two books I have been sharing with you about.

Today there are some very interesting insights in what I share. He conducted a survey about the “stand and greet” portion of a worship service.

Here is the essence of what he found: “we church members are often clueless about what our guests are thinking and experiencing.” I understand that I have visited churches in the past and in fact I wasn’t sure how things were done at Asbury when I arrived.

He refers to a couple who visited a church for the first time after not attending for a decade.  Their story was this. The church had a great website, getting to the church and parking was a “breeze”, the signage was clear for guests finding the guest parking places was easy. The people were genuinely friendly. So far, an overall good experience. But once they got into the worship center no one recognized them or spoke to them. His conclusion “Guests are most often overlooked in the few minutes before worship service.”


“Both majority of the members and the guests would like to see “stand and greet” go away. Nine out of ten do not like it. Most guests found it a way for members to connect.


In one church of seven hundred he said he found twenty-seven “holy huddles” of members clustered together talking to one another. He went on to say in twenty-six of the twenty-seven “holy huddles” no one spoke to him.


Here he refers back to Wendy’s commercial of the 80’s. His question is “Where is the information?” He suggest having a central location for information about the churches, and having Bibles available for people should they need one.


“The particular assignment for which I was retained (he said) was to help churches learn why first-time guests were not returning. He interviewed twenty-four first time guests who had not returned. In order to be consistent he said he developed a checklist of questions to insure consistency.

He said he received a lot of positive feedback:

  • The people were friendly,
  • The lead pastor’s sermons received rave reviews,
  • The signage was clear and simple,
  • And they were able to find the welcome center and the children’s area easily,
  • The worship center was equally easy to find.

His initial reaction was “these people really liked the church.” Why did they not return? He said he got silence and hesitation from some. But finally received some responses:

  • The worship center was “too dark.” She could not read her Bible; she could not see other people well.
  • I am quoting here to be clear “Indeed, I interviewed all twenty-four of the guests, the sound issues and the sound problems came up all but three times.”

“As I conducted hundreds of consultations over the next three decades, I heard many first-time guests mention issues with light and sound.”

I will take up the next very interesting topic in this chapter tomorrow. A hint “Too Friendly.”

Published by Pastor Larry

I came to Asbury in June 2020 right after COVID and enjoy being in this great church. We have several things going on that can be seen on our website @ We invite you to attend our service at 2704 South Highway W in Foley, MO. I am confident you will be blessed.

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